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Posted on 11/20/2020
Written by Jessica Montevago for https://www.travelmarketreport.com

It’s not a matter of if people will travel, but when. And with news of a vaccine, the travel industry is as optimistic as ever. So where will be the top destinations to visit, as clients and advisors get back on the road? We talked to the experts – travel advisors – who have visited some places and spoken with suppliers and clients, they’re on the ground and know where to go next year. Some will keep coronavirus guidance in mind, opting for the outdoors and wide open spaces, others are perennial favorites, like river cruising.

Smoky Mountains National Park
Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo: Lamar Sellers/Shutterstock.com. 

Road trips to resort destinations

“While their wings are clipped, some of our clients (including me) have taken to road trips in the USA, or nearby resort or leisure destinations.  Think Savannah, Asheville, Charleston SC, Smokey Mountains – places like Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain, Paws Up in Montana, etc.  Or beach locations in South Florida, Palm Beach, etc.  – so places with plenty of space and not too many people,” said Rob Clabbers, president of Q Cruise + Travel

Bullet train in Tokyo
Bullet train in Tokyo. Photo: Sakarin Sawasdinaka/Shutterstock.com.

Natural wonders of India, Japan and Iceland

“2021 will see travelers craving nature, wellness and authenticity. Destinations such as Japan, India and Iceland seem to be among the popular choices to escape one’s daily routine in the aftermath of the pandemic,” said Cathy Moha, founder of Gourmet Voyages. “Clients may decide to taste Indian spices all along the secluded waterways of Vembanad Lake in Kerala, take the famous shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to the Hida Mountains, and unwind in the quietness of a ryokan while bathing in the hot springs of the onsen, or discover Iceland’s astonishing wilderness and the wonders of its stunning and powerful nature. Each of these destinations will offer a change of scenery, grandiose landscapes, and the enchanting powers of remote hospitality, which is a must to rejuvenate and go back home fulfilled and content.”

Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah. Photo: Johnny Adolphson/Shutterstock.com.

Exploring the continental U.S.

“In recent months I have had clients doing some travel in the northeast… Know about properties in your area or the area where clients live and what your clients want and expect. Don’t do any hard selling but rather listening to the clients and then fact finding about properties that fit their desires,” said Jeff Traugot, Traugot Travel.

Out west, Leah Kirgis of World of Luxury Travel, has had several requests for Utah, Montana, and Colorado, especially for ski season. These destinations already have social distancing built in – it is part of the appeal – and allow travelers to dip their toes back into travel while adhering to COVID-19 guidance.

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park. Photo: YegoroV/Shutterstock.com.

National Parks

Specifically, Arcadia in Maine and Yellowstone in Wyoming and Montana, said Toni Lanotte-Day

Travel Consultant, Toni Tours, Inc. For clients still apprehensive about COVID-19, this allows them to travel and take in the great sights out country has to offer while being socially distanced and outdoors.

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland. Photo: YegoroV/Shutterstock.com.

The Emerald Isle

“Ireland is top of my list, and hopefully more destinations will slowly open up again. But, before I recommend any travel product , it is extremely important to get all the updated information on each and every one of their safety protocols,” said Donna Flanigan, travel consultant with Donna Flanigan’s Travel by TPI.

European River Cruises
European river cruises. Photo: joyfull/Shutterstock.com.

European river cruises

“Clients tend to like that these cruises are on small ships, and that – as long as there are no travel restrictions for the country they will be sailing in – they are already ‘in country’ when the cruise begins. Effectively, they are on a floating boutique hotel and that appeals to people,” said Clabbers.

“With the river cruise companies being flexible in allowing booked guests to change their sail date close in to the departure date without a change fee, my well-traveled clients are hedging their bets that river cruises will be operating by Summer 2021. And since they have fewer passengers than ocean cruises they are more comfortable giving it a go,” agreed Lanotte-Day.

Bled, Slovenia
Bled, Slovenia. Photo: GPhotography/Shutterstock.com.

Slovenia, Europe’s hidden gem

Slovenia is a marvelous destination for curious travelers, especially once we make it through this pandemic and travel is able to resume again,” said Anela Isherwood, owner of Luxury Travel Designer. “It is the perfect place for nature and outdoor lovers, and people seeking intimacy and seclusion after COVID. From the mountainous Alpine region with stunning lakes and charming villages, to the green hills of vineyards, and the small but extremely picturesque coast it is the perfect place to escape to after a year of putting travel dreams on hold. Slovenia holds the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2021 and offers much to discover on the culinary front. Slovenia is also world-renowned for its sustainability efforts and for being one of the greenest countries in Europe, and is a wellness lover’s haven and overflowing with spas, wellness resorts, and outdoor activities.”

The Turkish Riviera

“Because of all the inquires we have been getting, I decided to go to Turkey to see firsthand what was my clients could experience,” said Sofia Calvin, founder and lead travel advisor of Storied Travel. “One client that I booked was looking to do a spiritual/religious trip and chose Turkey as their destination. Other clients have inquired about the Turkish Riviera particularly, Bodrum on the Aegean Sea. It’s warm, it’s tropical, has beautiful views and luxury accommodations. It’s very much akin to the French Riviera and the Amalfi Coast but with fewer crowds and just as much charm.”

Maribor in Slovenia, one of Europe's hidden gems
Maribor in Slovenia, one of Europe’s hidden gems. Photo: Roman Babakin/Shutterstock.com.

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